I took my camera to Malvern but somehow the fact that it was cold and I was enjoying the company of Zoe means I didn't get it out so this blog will have to be a picture free zone. Hopeless.
Setting off on Thursday felt a bit like playing hookey, all by myself in the car, leaving all my usual responsibilities behind. I was reminded again of how much I like driving when it is just the car and me and the open road, or the M6 which is not quite so Mr Toad-like.
I was staying at Bredon House (recommended, good position, great breakfasts) with Zoe and Karen from An Artist's Garden and Karen's sister in law Jane. This was quite a cunning way of managing the meeting up with bloggers as I had already met both Zoe and Karen and thought that this would feel more like a reunion with friends and less like plunging in to a roomful of strangers and it did. Meeting blogging friends is an odd sensation, never actually quite like meeting a stranger, more as I imagine it might be to meet up with a penfriend. I wouldn't know. I was a very poor correspondent and never managed to create one of those long distance relationships with a penfriend which I rather envied in my more dedicated letter writing friends. But bloggers, now I have met quite a few bloggers and it is always a delight.
Thursday night was a meal in a pub. We walked in and within seconds Helen was there showing us to the table. We must just look like gardeners I suppose! Perhaps she was looking at our hands. You just have a few moments on first meeting a virtual friend when the reality of what they look like can cause you a mild surprise before the real person overlays the image in your head. Within half an hour you can't imagine that they could ever be anything other than what they are. So there was patientgardener (taller and slimmer than I thought she would be), VP (taller, thoughtful), Anne (exactly as I had imagined), Yolandaelizabet (I thought she was blond). Then there were the people further up the table, some of whom I managed to speak to and some of whom were just too far away. It was great to talk to Gayle (what on earth do I mean if I say someone doesn't look American? Not sure, but she doesn't, she looks English) and to feel that wonderful sense of connection to someone from far away. I knew I hadn't had the chance to talk to Frances and Ewa so hoped to catch up with them the next day.
The day of the show kicked off with a massive breakfast: blueberries and raspberries and yoghurt followed by bacon and scrambled egg and toast. I could eat like that every day if someone else made and served it and I had such good company. Karen and Zoe had both warned that they were not morning people but it didn't show! Perhaps the excitement woke them up early.
The day was cold but soon warmed up by meeting other bloggers. Zoe and I met up with Milla and that was just as good as I had thought it would be. We drifted around show gardens. I hardly dare to say this but show gardens are not really my sort of thing. I like places that have evolved perhaps rather than been designed and I found much of the planting rather contrived and spotty. Then I came across the Garden of recovery and wellbeing which I absolutely loved. Perhaps it was the nettles and the jack in the green behind the chicken shed or the chickens themselves, both of which reminded me of home, or the beautiful tiled path. It was a little oasis of calm in the midst of the bustle. I also liked Trackbed, based on a railway line on the Welsh borders, and Deb Bird's The Nature of Nurture with its fabulous ivy covered fence and covetable greenhouse.
The highlight of the show for me was the floral marquee. I could feel my stomach fluttering with excitement. All those stalls, all those plants and amazingly helpful and knowledgeable people like Avon bulbs, patiently explaining to me that the camassia I had fallen in love with probably would not like my stony fastdraining soil but pointing me in the direction of a fritillary I had never even heard of. I was determined to be careful in my plantbuying. There is nothing more demoralising that having everything die on you. So I bought some beautiful epimedium, some delightful bunny grass and couldn't quite resist some scented leaved geraniums, complete with some advice as to how to keep them over winter. It was heaven.
Evening was a visit to Helen's house. Her garden is even better in the flesh than in photographs and I fleetingly longed for a damp enough spot so that I could grow her ligularia. Dream on. Here I did catch up with Ewa and Frances, met Victoria and Lia and generally felt that I had not enough time to talk to everyone again! So if I haven't included your name here I apologise wholeheartedly, it is my terrible memory (oh also met Anna and Claire and Sally, oh I should never have started this naming people thing). Everyone without exception was interesting and good company.
And the next morning I whizzed off. I should have had another day. I should have had time to go back round the floral marquee a couple of times and to look at all the outside stalls. There were some fabulous craft pieces as well when I could tear my eyes from plants. There were people I felt I had met only fleetingly - VP, Happy Mouffetard, Wild Somerset Child - who I would have loved the chance to talk to for longer. Even those I did meet for longer left me with a sense it was all too short. Thanks so much for all the organising to VP and patientgardener. It was just great.